Mommy & Me: Truly and her Mamma

We were out for a girls’ night to celebrate a friend’s birthday at a yummy restaurant, with a table full of Mom’s and a newborn baby girl in the mix. As we got talking about taking photos of ourselves with our little ones, we commented on how it’s often only selfies – if we even make it into the photo with our beloved child! SO much heart and soul gets poured into our babes from feeding to diapers to reading and playing, and we’re hardly in any photos to remember it (visually!).

That’s where this idea came from – to offer Mommy & Me photography sessions that capture the everyday moments of nurturing and caring for our little ones. This session is ideally meant to be used in the first year of your baby’s life – but capturing “home life” would be fun too!

Introducing, Jen and her sweet six-month-old, Truly Rue. With two older brothers, Truly will be dearly loved and protected!

Advertisements

Little things are big things: what helped me in my first year as a mamma

 

I doubt any new mom would say their first year was a breeze. Would they? If they did, they’re probably lying or in denial in some way. It’s been a greater change to adapt to than getting married, FOR SURE. Between the hormones, time not being your own anymore, trying to understand your baby’s needs when they can’t communicate, and the opinions of everyone … including random coughing Walmart shoppers who decide they can touch your baby – it’s a complete life change. One that I wouldn’t change for anything, Elizabeth is such a gift! But it’s tough work and super rewarding all at the same time. Elizabeth is almost 10 months, and as I reflect on her ‘almost one year’ of life, there have been some definite things that have helped me navigate new waters.

1) Find a tribe – When I was single, I felt like the “mom group” was one I so wanted to be a part of, but had nothing in common with. I wanted to get to know those women better, but what does one talk about? Once I got pregnant, I suddenly understood why.

When mammas get together, all they talk about is their family. What stage your kids are at. What they won’t eat, will eat, how they sleep, won’t sleep. What school to choose. How you and your husband are doing, or not. It literally is what you connect on, and I finally feel like I can relate.

People talk about what matters to them, and for mammas, family matters to us the most. Home matters.

Since we moved shortly before we got pregnant, I’ve been adopted into ‘already set-up’ tribes of mammas, and because of a mom’s group at my church, I am learning to make friends with other moms. Not to say if someone is single or not married I won’t be friends with them, but there is something necessary in being a mother, that you need to have other mom friends. You just do. I don’t know how many times I’ve texted a friend asking for advice, or felt hormones off (especially in the beginning!), wondering if it was normal. You can’t mother alone, you just can’t. It’s something I crave and am having to learn to be vulnerable with, and let the Lord guide our relationships – both for Troy and I as a couple, and for me as a new mom.

2) Healthy lifestyle – I love good food. When I got pregnant, eating healthy took on a whole new meaning! That value has continued and has actually changed my taste buds. For real. I don’t eat half a bag of chips every night (not even kidding, I could before!). I prefer a bowl of yogurt with berries over a bowl of ice cream for dessert. When I grocery shop, I try as best I can to have lots of healthy options on hand. I now prefer making soup over the canned stuff. But I do believe that has served me well as a new mom, as I needed the fuel and the habit was there to help. Don’t get me wrong – I still love my black licorice and cookies. It’s about balance 😉

I TRY to exercise about 3x a week. Now that the weather is cold, that looks like a pilates or yoga video, or jumping on the elliptical while Elizabeth bounces in her jolly jumper. Sometimes it’s simple stretches, and other days it’s a bit longer. Once the weather warms up, we will get out for walks, but for now, this works!

3) Getting out to see people – For me, I like to get out for a coffee/play date once a week, and out of the house daily, if weather will allow. In our recent -25 weather, many days have become PJ days, so I really feel the cabin fever! I count down the minutes to when Troy comes home! On the days when we can’t get out, I try to Skype my parents or talk to someone, as mothering can get very lonely. Every week I try to connect with a friend or have some ‘social outing’ for Elizabeth and I. This kind of goes with #1. Some people may need to see and socialize daily, but for me, as long as I get some friendship/connection time in weekly, I am good. Getting out in general is good for me, but I’m not one that needs fun connection time every single day. I am looking forward to spring, when E and I can take the dog out for walks/runs, have picnics with friends, and explore our community (as she’ll be walking sometime this year, yay!).

4) Quiet time/connecting with Jesus – This really should be #1. It’s staggering to me how we as Christians can think that we can live victoriously, joyfully, peacefully – whatever – without pursuing to know the One who made us and saved us.

Becoming a wife was refining, and so has becoming a mother. You realize the sin in your heart more, and your desperate need for a Savior. I’ve always valued my time with the Word and just soaking up my Father, and now it’s even more precious. Once Elizabeth was on a bit more of a routine, and I could somewhat predict her wake-up time, I started to set my alarm about an hour earlier. I know, WHAT?! Wake up BEFORE the baby even wakes up? Yep. I get my coffee and do my devo or reading, meditate on God’s goodness – whatever I am soaking up at that time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend an hour, but sometimes it’s 20 minutes or 45 of resting my heart in God’s hands before the day begins.

I think you can have your devo’s any time of day that works for you, but there is something about the mornings. Proverbs 8:17 says “…those who seek me diligently find me…” (ESV) Some versions use the word “early” (NKJV) instead of diligently. You can also find this in Psalm 63:1 – early/earnestly David seeks the Lord. Sometimes this time doesn’t happen until nap time, and weekends I find harder, but God shows up for us mothers in a sweet way. In our long hours at home, I believe that we can set the tone and welcome His presence in our seemingly menial and routine tasks. Sometimes I’ll start worshiping and Elizabeth will belt out “ahhahahahaha”, and my heart melts. I want to teach her to love God’s Word and worship Him in every season, so my heart is surrendering to God daily for help with that as the Holy Spirit shows me how.

Currently, I am using Timothy Keller’s study of the book of Galatians as a guide for my devo time. I find I need some sort of anchor to steer me in this season when time is unpredictable.

5) Time with hubby – I am ever grateful that my mother-in-law lives close, as she has enabled us go get out on date nights almost every month. Funny thing, when you do finally get away from baby, all you want to talk about is her 😉 Sometimes time with hubby is us playing a game (we recently bought Trivial Pursuit 2000’s!), snuggling up with a movie and snacks, or going to bed early because that’s what we need. Our favourite is getting out on the weekend, us three, and grabbing a Starbucks for our outing. We have the best conversations when driving, so it feels like quality time for me! Troy and I joke that my love language is all five – quality time, words, touch, service, AND gifts. Seriously, love me in any way and I will soak it up!!

6) Soak it up – People tell you it goes by quickly, and it does. So I’ve been capturing pictures, video, sitting on the floor lots with my girl, and writing down memories and cute things she does. I know that being home with my girl is a gift, heck being a mom is a gift in itself, so I don’t take it for granted. Quieting the world of to-do’s definitely helps me still my heart to what matters – loving my family well in this season with the grace God gives me.

7) Grace, lots of grace – As previously mentioned, I think one of the biggest things I’ve needed to receive and learn this year is how to receive grace from God, when I don’t know what I’m doing. Give myself grace, when I feel guilty about something or think I could or should be doing something better. And give grace to Elizabeth, when she naps 25 minutes instead of the coveted 1.5 hours. You just can’t predict every moment, and for someone who is a planner, I’ve had to learn to “let go and let God” so to speak. Well, still learning that one. 😉 Remembering that becoming a mom is likely one of the biggest life changes you’ll ever experience, will hopefully enable you to cut yourself some slack and give grace on the days you need it!

So there’s my top 7 things that have helped me as a new mamma. Hopefully some of that will ring true for you too!

Birthing a new song

There were no big production spotlights, save for a single illuminating star in the night sky.

There was no red carpet, but musty hay to lead the way. With a muffled sound of gathered sheep and a baby’s cry in the distance, it seemed a very ordinary night.

But singing, oh there was singing. Rejoicing as our Savior was born, even in the midst of unexpected surroundings and circumstances; there was a resounding song of praise. The angels sang of the glory of God come to earth, and I am betting that Mary’s song of praise continued as she held tightly, not just to her little miracle, but to the One she would share with the world.

You see she sang before that moment in the manger. Before Luke 2, was Luke 1 – Mary magnified the Lord. She had heard the promise, and before she ever saw her miracle in tangible form, she praised.

Birthing is hard work. I can now testify to that fact, as we celebrate our 9-month-old daughter’s first Christmas! I have a whole new appreciation for Mary birthing Jesus in a stable. “You go, girl!” might be appropriate at this point. Seriously, way to go Mary. No fancy hospital or modern medicine, but a promise to lean in to as she gave birth to her first child… the reason we all have a ‘baby’s first Christmas’!

You see, before we ever experience a miracle, an answered prayer or promise, I believe a song in our heart can lead the way. Before the “new”, comes the song. I listened to a sermon this week about the Israelites and how many times they were commanded to sing unto the Lord (Exodus 15). There are over 400 verses in the Bible about singing, and 50 specific verses commanding us to sing! Worship prepares our hearts for the promise. I wonder if without it, we would miss it entirely? I wonder if worship prepared Mary’s heart to receive the promise, however He would come.

Timothy Keller says that “In religion, you worship God because He is useful. In Christianity, you worship God because He is beautiful.”

As we celebrate Christmas this weekend, whatever season you are in – receiving a new promise of hope for the future, birthing something new and feeling the hard work, or celebrating God’s goodness in your life – may your heart be filled with a song this Christmas. I hope you pause just long enough to sing a new song, and lean into the gift we have in Jesus. He is so so beautiful.

Merry Christmas to you all! xo

Monday Minute: He delights

 

Her little head lay on the pillow; cozy and just five-days-old, like an angel floating on a cloud. Our photographer graciously allowed us to hover and do what we needed to do as new parents. This was as foreign to us as it was to our little girl. How do we do this? Some parenting comes naturally, and the rest, I am learning, you figure out along the way. But the one thing that just comes without effort?

Love. It’s there in amounts beyond measure.

I’m generally an ‘exact’ person. I like to know what’s expected, what the recipe calls for so to speak. If it says “1 cup pressed flour” I know that I have to tamp it. But if it says “1 cup loose flour” say, that means scoop and throw it in.

But love, it can’t be measured – loose or tamped. It can’t be contained; doesn’t run out. It keeps growing, like a fig tree with roots that get deeper and deeper as the years pass.

That day? He could’ve popped a button he was so proud. Troy stood over the photographer as she tucked and propped our little girl into the perfect angelic position. I stood back, watching it all, capturing the moment. New Daddy or not, he was in love with his little girl.

As she grows, we both have commented on how much we are enamored and in love with our daughter. She doesn’t have to do anything special, she’s just ours and that’s enough. We look at pictures and videos of her after she has gone to bed. We delight in her because she is our daughter, before she does anything special or loves us back. In a heartbeat, we will do whatever it takes for her to grow and become all that God has destined for her.

Delight would be an appropriate word. We delight in her. And as the days and months pass, it makes me think how Father God feels about me. Yet it’s beyond the scope of what we feel for Elizabeth, a love that we can experience, but surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19). And like friends told me, you can’t really grasp it until you have your own. I now understand the mama-bear, panic-gripped, tear-stinging, heart-jumping, joy-filled love that you only experience as a mommy or daddy.

We are there for her. Will there be days when we make decisions she doesn’t like? You betcha. Will there be discipline and ways we love her that don’t feel like love at the moment, but are for her good? Yep. Hard days, I’m sure. With love as the driving force, we will train her up in the way she should go (Proverbs 22:6). And cover her with our delight.

This picture of peace, of rest, as Daddy watches… let it be a reminder today of how much God is for you. How much He is there, loving, ready in a heartbeat to catch you if you fall. Ready to train you, delight in you; yes to challenge and cause you to grow. But, all in love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top baby items we’ve loved and where to find them

As first-time parents, we were obviously open to advice and hand-me-downs from friends and family. What we have learned since (in the 8 months of our daughter’s life), is that every baby and their needs are different, and you have to be flexible. For the planner in me, that has been difficult! I’d like to think I’m learning to let go and be more adaptable 😉

Along the way, we have found some items that we’ve loved, that have definitely made life easier. So I wanted to share links, and some pictures, with you in case it may help you in the future! Awwww, look at us…on the way home from the hospital with our baby girl… we had no idea what we were doing! Thankfully friends and family have helped along the way 😉

Ikea changetable/dresser – $150
We bought the 3-drawer Hemnes dresser (white), that is actually no longer available! I couldn’t find it on their site, which is unfortunate because it’s the perfect height and fits a change pad and wipes on it.

Love to Dream, Swaddle – $38
When Elizabeth was about 7 weeks old, I was tired of fighting to keep her swaddled at night. From day one, she liked to flail her arms in bed. After a nighttime feeding, I would wrap her in the muslin cloth as tight as I could, and by the time I got back to bed, her arms were out. I would nudge Troy and ask him to go wrap her up. Which he would, and usually she would stay in it. She loved her arms up close to her face, so when a friend told us about this one, we thought it didn’t hurt to try! She stayed in the small, then the medium, until almost five months old! The zipper saved my butt from having to try and swaddle her up!

DIY Mobile – $21 and $6 on some ribbon
Ok, so mobiles are expensive. Like, $60-100. And they all seemed rather tacky for the baby girl’s room I had put together. When Elizabeth was about three months old, I ordered this Victsing Mobile Music Box Baby Crib Mobile Bed Bell Toy Holder Arm Bracket + Wind-up off of Amazon, and then had some twine and ribbon that I fashioned through the loops. I liked this one because the song is “You are my sunshine” and that was the first song I ever sang to Elizabeth on our car ride home from the hospital when she was crying uncontrollably! And it worked. I am happy with how it turned out. She is now trying to reach for it lots so we shall see how long it lasts!

Mamaroo – $350 – borrowed
A friend was kind enough to lend us their mamaroo, and hands-down, it was a lifesaver! We had it in our dining room or living room. I remember one night, in the first couple of weeks, we tried for HOURS to get her to sleep in her crib and it just wasn’t working. Finally, around 1am, we brought her into our room in the mamaroo and she slept 5 hours straight! Mommy, on the other hand, was waking constantly to check on her, but, baby slept! She eventually grew out of it and became bored with it, and I reluctantly gave it back, knowing it was a phase of her little life that was now done!

Backseat mirror – $18
Okay, seriously, how did people cope without these a few years ago? I LOVE being able to see what she’s doing or if she’s sleeping. A must have, for sure. We got ours at Babies ‘R Us, but on Amazon they are about the same price.

Bath tub – $50
I love this tub from Babies ‘R Us, as it props her up just right, and is a 3pc. So as she grows, the tub grows with her. We can have it on the counter, like we did in the beginning, or now it sits in the tub just nicely. She’s almost outgrown the seat in it ! 😦

Pacifier teething/soother clip – $12
Elizabeth has never been a big fan of soothers, but I was ready, just in case 😉 I have this one, from Etsy, in her carseat. She likes to chew on it or play with it now and again. I loved the color options!

Headbands$7
I love me some headbands! I finally found these recently on Etsy, and I love them because they are made of ladies’ nylons, so they don’t make a harsh mark on her head! I also got this one in black and white. They match with almost anything!

Britax stroller/carseat travel system – $600
The stroller/carseat was the one place we splurged a bit more. Troy was great at picking this out, ensuring it would be something easy enough for me to lift in and out of the trunk. The only thing I would change about this is to have a bigger bottom basket and a plastic tray with it. I bought a canvas cup holder (cheaper) and had a Starbucks spill on our maiden voyage out! Otherwise, this Britax system is easy to fold and we love it!

Breast pump – $150-300
This was another hand-me-down necessity from a friend. We have the Lanolin brand, which I’m not sure they make anymore, but it has worked great for me! I bought a breast pump kit with new attachments from Amazon and it’s been great! So if you think borrowing someone’s pump is gross, then just get this kit and you’re fine! These Medela steam bags have also been great to sterilize and quickly clean soothers, bottles, etc.

Boba baby wrap – $60
This was also a gift, quite literally! I loved wearing Elizabeth around the house, though learning to tie this thing was a YouTube journey! She had many naps in there while I had two free hands to do things around the house. Love love.

We also went simple with our crib (Ikea), rocking chair for nursery (free, hand me down), and most of the nursery decor I made or thrifted aside from a few printables I bought off Etsy! I don’t consider myself crafty, but I do like to challenge myself to make something beautiful on a budget 🙂

We didn’t get a conventional diaper bag, as neither of us really like them! We wanted to find something we could use for our next baby as well, so wanted something fairly neutral. We ended up getting a navy blue/leather Fossil bag on clearance that seems rather large, but does the job! I bought a diaper bag insert that has 7 spots for stuff, so it makes the bag seem more suitable as a diaper bag.

If you are expecting, hopefully that little list helps you narrow down the multitude of options there are for baby things!!